Camelback Mountain-Straight to the Top

“I hate the Echo Canyon trail,” my neighbor stated emphatically, “It’s nothing but stair climbing.”

It was Super Bowl Sunday. I was appropriately and comfortably ensconced in his reclining couch in front of his big screen stuffing my face with chicken wings and jalepeno poppers.  I took a swig of my Heineken before responding.

Somewhere on the Echo Canyon Trail…I think I’m looking at the flip side of the formation in the Maynard Dixon painting below.


“Well I’ve lived here for almost fifteen years now. I just felt kind of guilty that I’ve never climbed the thing before.”

The “thing” was Camelback Mountain. During my decade and half of residency in Arizona I’ve gazed at the summit more times and from more different perspectives than I can count. I’ve been a guest in several homes on both sides of the mountain, all with impressive art collections.  I’ve sold dozens of pre-World War II Camelback paintings (albeit most to one client, Dave Picerne, who was also generous enough to send me a copy of Camelback-Sacred Mountain of Phoenix by Gary Driggs.) I even wrote a recent blog entry which featured a couple Maynard Dixon Camelback pieces.

Somewhere else on the Echo Canyon Trail, looking west towards the White Tank Mountains.

Two weeks prior to the Super Bowl a twinge of guilt derived from writing about a subject I hadn’t fully experienced led me to the Camelback summit via the Echo Canyon Trail.

For a seasoned trail runner the 1,400 elevation gain in a little over a mile is a piece of cake. For an old fart like me who’s still trying to get back into good aerobic shape after some serious health issues it was a little more challenging.  At times I was so winded I felt like throwing up. On the descent I was so soaked in sweat some guy asked me if it was raining at the top. Afterwards my legs ached so bad I could barely walk for the next three days.


I enjoyed it so much I did it again the following week.

For the record, I disagree slightly with my neighbor’s description of the ascent. I think it’s 1/3rd stair climbing, 1/3rd Class 3 boulder scramble and 1/3rd damned steep trail.

View from the summit looking east.  Four Peaks in the distance.

I ate two more chicken wings and took another sip of beer.

“Besides, the elevation gain is exactly the kind of training I need when I hike to Havasupai Falls in a couple months.” I added, “I’m determined not to let my teenage nieces run me into the ground this time. It’s getting humiliating.”

More jalapeno poppers…more chicken wings…more Heineken…anyone could see I was taking my training very seriously.

To be continued…



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